A Time of Questions is the second volume of the quintet, Prison of Dreams, depicting the growth of the Tamil armed struggle in 1980s Sri Lanka. The five novels together describe the Sinhala-Tamil ethnic conflict, the hard choices faced by the minority communities subject to pogroms and oppressive laws, and the sufferings and exiles of simple villagers as the conflict finally flares up into a full-fledged and bloody civil war.
A Time of Questions explores the choices faced by Tamil youth in the face of a growing Sinhala Buddhist nationalism. Rajalakshmi--married in all but sacred ritual to Suthan--faces two options: to remain in her beloved little island, Nainativu, or to seek refuge in India and join Suthan. At the same time, the insurgent movement for Tamil separation begins to fracture through internal differences and Suthan makes a decision that irrevocably alters his and Rajalakshmi's fates.
About the authors
Devakanthan (Bala Kumarasamy) was exiled by the war in Sri Lanka in the early 1980s and lived in India before moving to Canada. He lives in Toronto and is an active member of the Canadian Tamil literary scene as author and arts critic. He is a reader of Sanskrit and ancient Tamil, and has drawn from those influences in some of his works, such as Lankapuram and Kathakalam, being reimaginings of the Ramayana and Mahabarata.
His Sacred Army, the first volume of the quintet, won the Government of Tamil Nadu Novel of the Year Award (1998), and the quintet as a whole received the Tamil Literary Garden's Best Novel Award (2014).
Nedra Rodrigo was born in Sri Lanka and came to Canada during the civil war. She is a translator, poet, workshop organizer at the York Centre for Asian Research, and arts educator for youth in the York Region District School Board. She is also the founder of the Tamil Studies Symposium at York University. She is the founder and current host of the bilingual, inclusive literary event, the Tam Fam Lit Jam.
Nedra's poetry and essays have been published in various anthologies. Her translation credits include the poetry of R Cheran, Puthuvai Ratnathurai, and V I S Jayapalan in the collection Human Rights and the Arts in Global Asia; the memoir In the Shadow of a Sword, published by SAGE YODA Press, India (2020); Kuna Kaviyazhakan's "Forest That Took Poison," shortlisted for the inaugural Global Humanities Translation Prize; and the Prison of Dreams quintet. She lives in Toronto.